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I haven’t been able to get many picks out this week due to a severe shortage of NHL action aside from Tuesday night’s games. Monday and Wednesday featured just six games combined and I don’t like to force my picks if nothing stands out to me. I went 1-1 with my most recent picks on Tuesday night for my only selections of the week so far, but my winner was at a nice price and clinched a winning evening for my picks. The Tampa Bay Lightning topped the Flyers Tuesday night by a 4-1 count, going UNDER the 5.5 total. This was a bit of a surprise on behalf of the Flyers as they looked like they were gaining steam but they were flat in this one and managed just the single tally. Our winner came when Montreal defeated the visiting Carolina Hurricanes by a 3-1 count, therefore hitting my Habs -1.5 pick at a great price of +155. There are seven games on the NHL slate tonight so let’s get back in to it after a night off.
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Carolina Hurricanes
My Pick – HURRICANES (+120)
Yes, the Toronto Maple Leafs are 10-1-1 in their last 12 games overall and they have now won six straight games after their most recent victory over the NHL’s best team, the Anaheim Ducks. Toronto ended Anaheim’s seven game winning streak and did so by scoring six goals on the usually defensive-minded Ducks. And yes, the Hurricanes have lost six straight and 13 of their last 16 games. However, the Leafs are known to lay a mid-week egg once in a while, and I’m looking at tonight’s game as that egg. Ten of Toronto’s last 12 games have been played on home ice and they are just 2-2-2 in their last six road games this season. Carolina is a place where Toronto has had a very tough time having any sort of success in recent history. They were thumped 6-1 in Carolina last year in a game that most thought the Leafs were going to win, and the Canes have beat the Leafs in four straight games in Carolina. Phil Kessel has been one of the NHL’s highest scoring players since he pulled on a Toronto sweater in 2009, however he has been held pointless against the Hurricanes in five of his last seven matchups with them. Compare that to 11 point for Hurricanes young forward Jeff Skinner in his last 8 games against Toronto. This can be looked at as a risky pick given how the last stretch of games have gone for these two clubs, however it can also be looked at as a trap game for the Leafs who haven’t played on the road much at all so far this year. Take the Canes tonight as home underdogs to knock off the red-hot Maple Leafs.
Anaheim Ducks @ Montreal Canadiens
My Pick – UNDER 5 (+130)
My second pick for tonight will feature the Anaheim Ducks fresh off of a 6-2 loss to the Maple Leafs visiting the Montreal Canadiens who are fresh off of a 4-1 victory over Carolina. Anaheim’s loss to Toronto is likely a little more exaggerated than what actually took place. This team checks hard and does not allow many scoring chances, the difference in that game was how opportunistic the Leafs can be and they basically scored on all of their chances. The same cannot be said for Montreal as they score just 2.59 goals per game, almost a full goal under what the Leafs score. The difference maker for the Habs is obviously between the pipes as Carey Price sports an attractive 2.33 goals against average and a .923 save percentage on the season. His GAA is a full goal less, 1.33, over Montreal’s last three wins. Without Corey Perry in the lineup tonight the Ducks could find it difficult to find the back of the net once again. Special teams don’t always play a part in Montreal games as their powerplay clicks under 15% while their penalty kill sits over 85%, lowering the impact powerplays have on their games. I wouldn’t expect the lamp to be lit a whole lot tonight as the fierce checking of the Ducks is sure to limit Montreal’s scoring chances and Carey Price will likely turn aside the Anaheim chances. Take the UNDER 5 tonight at a great price from the Bell Centre in Montreal.